Known as bastions of good taste and wealth, Christie's and Sotheby's have been engaged in a knock-down fight over which of the famed auction houses will handle A. Alfred Taubman's $500 million art collection. How strange that the estate of the deceased, who owned Sotheby’s for more than two decades, would even consider having its archrival get near the collection.
Valued at more than $500 million, the estate of shopping center magnate A. Alfred Taubman might be one of the most valuable private art collections in the world.
Recently the New York Times published "Sotheby's to Auction A. Alfred Taubman's $500 Million Trove," detailing the war between the rival auction houses as they fought for the right to auction the collection.
Christie's and Sotheby's went back and forth with Taubman's family for months in an effort to win the bid. Both auction houses created mock catalogues for the collection and put exceptional effort into their presentations. The interesting question, however, is why there was a war in the first place?
Taubman was a long-serving chairman of Sotheby's. In fact, he is credited with turning the house around and making it a public company. To make the Sotheby’s connection even stronger, his son Robert is the director of Sotheby's and his stepdaughter works there as well. Truly, it would have been a very interesting family conversation if Christie's had won the right to auction the collection.
The article does not give an answer to that question. Most likely, this is an example of an estate administrator doing the job correctly and selecting the auction house that would make the most money for the estate.
Contact an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that your estate plan provides for similar due diligence to benefit your loved ones.
Reference: New York Times (September 3, 2015) "Sotheby's to Auction A. Alfred Taubman's $500 Million Trove"